If You’re Good At Something Never Do It For Free

Seth Godin writes:

I had a college professor who did engineering consulting. A brand new office tower in Boston had a serious problem–there was a brown stain coming through the drywall, (all of the drywall) no matter how much stain killer they used. In a forty story building, if you have to rip out all the drywall, this is a multi-million dollar disaster. They had exhausted all possibilities and were a day away from tearing out everything and taking a loss. They hired Henry in a last-ditch effort to solve the problem. He looked at the walls and said, “I think I can work out a solution, but it will cost you $45,000 if I succeed.” They instantly signed on, because if he succeeded, the project would be saved. Henry asked for a pencil and paper and wrote the name of a common hardware store chemical and handed it to them. “Here, this will work.” And then he billed them $45,000. That’s quite an hourly wage. It’s also quite a bargain.

Someone questioned me the other day about pricing. Godin’s quote came to mind. Will flesh this out further in the days to come, but for now I thought his wisdom was appropriate.

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2 thoughts on “If You’re Good At Something Never Do It For Free

  1. Reminds me of this old chestnut:

    Ever heard the story of the giant ship engine that failed? The ship’s owners tried one expert after another, but none of them could figure but how to fix the engine. Then they brought in an old man who had been fixing ships since he was a youngster. He carried a large bag of tools with him, and when he arrived, he immediately went to work. He inspected the engine very carefully, top to bottom.

    Two of the ship’s owners were there, watching this man, hoping he would know what to do. After looking things over, the old man reached into his bag and pulled out a small hammer. He gently tapped something. Instantly, the engine lurched into life. He carefully put his hammer away. The engine was fixed! A week later, the owners received a bill from the old man for ten thousand dollars.

    “What?!” the owners exclaimed. “He hardly did anything!”

    So they wrote the old man a note saying, “Please send us an itemized bill.”

    The man sent a bill that read:

    Tapping with a hammer ……………………. $ 2.00
    Knowing where to tap …………………. $ 9,998.00

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